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NZ: Sex messages not okay

Publish Date: 16 Jul 2011
Source: Gisborne Herald
By: Alice Te Puni and Sophie Rishworth

Miss Helen's Massive Melons. Photo / Supplied

 A CALL for energy drink cans featuring overt sexual messages to be banned has been made by the National Council of New Zealand Women.

Minister of Women’s Affairs Hekia Parata is also making a stand against the products, saying the “silly branding” was as bad as the suggestion women don’t go to work once a month because of their period.

The canned drinks available in Gisborne and nationwide were brought to the attention of The Herald this week.

The drinks have explicit sexual references, for example – “Miss Helen is never shy in getting her big plump ripe melons out for the lads”.

The woman who brought the energy drinks in to the office felt the products were disturbing because of the offensive imagery and messages.

Most men said the product was OK, “but my big problem was young boys could buy it”, she said.

NCNZW president Elizabeth Bang said the energy drinks called Ms Svenson’s Classroom Detention and Miss Helen’s Massive Melons were “not OK” and the messages on the can were sexist and offensive to women.

“First, there’s the portrayal of women as sex objects. Second, the sale of these drinks is unrestricted so anyone of any age, including young boys, can buy them. And third is the level of desensitisation to this sort of advertising among some people in the community.”

While provocative images and suggestive wording on the can was designed to appeal to men, it actively denigrated women.

“It’s clearly an advertising ploy aimed at the male population.

“However, the bright spark who dreamed it up has single-handedly managed to offend the other half of the population.

“The National Council of Women has been working for many years to improve the status of women in New Zealand, and the advertising on the energy drink flies in the face of our efforts. We strongly urge those retailers selling the product to take it off their shelves.”

If retailers don’t “heed their appeal”, NCW will put out another call — this time to the retailers’ customers to boycott the outlets until the drinks are removed.

Ms Parata wants to see the canned drinks off shop shelves.

“Men who think this is clever, are just plain dumb. Sadly, they are role modelling this to boys and young men.”

“Girls and young woman are qualifying at an increasing rate and are helping build a stronger economy and better society. That is how they should be accurately depicted,” Ms Parata said.

Censorship New Zealand will wait for an official complaint to be made before investigating further.

The Advertising Standards Authority last year upheld a complaint that a poster for the energy drink Rasta Blasta, using marijuana imagery, was deemed socially irresponsible.

The Rasta Blasta can carries suggestive sexual commentary on the back of its can.

Written to resemble a Jamaican accent, the script contains references to anal sex, porn stars, Tiger Woods, chubby girls and Oprah.

The high-strength, energy drink is made by the Mad Drinks Factory in Ponsonby Road, Auckland. Repeated attempts to contact the company were unsuccesful.

Demon Drinks Ltd supply the product throughout New Zealand, including to First Light Frozen in Gisborne who did not wish to comment.

The New Zealand Federation of Business and Professional Women Gisborne branch president Rachael Spriggs has called for stricter controls on the marketing used to sell these types of products, as they can be purchased by people of all ages.

Both the imagery and the text on the packaging was offensive and discriminatory towards women, she said.

“The packaging does not empower our young women, nor does it encourage our young men to treat women with respect.

“Can a lack of respect and value for women lead to violence against women, or at the very least verbal insults and psychological abuse?

“If we are to change behaviour and educate our youth to value our women, we need to provide them with positive role models and this labelling does the opposite.

“Marketers should be role-modelling respect and value to women and their peers, no matter what the product.”

Mrs Spriggs said the pictures did not foster respect for women educators.

“If the ingredients in the product use caffeine as the energy boost, there is research to show that caffeine affects brain function to the point where some students are impossible to teach.

“How can we expect our youth to get the best education possible when the marketing of this product encourages them to consume a drink that is detrimental to this?”

Copyright © The Gisborne Herald


Stop Demand understands the wording of the drink containers read:

Miss Helen's Massive Melons

“Miss Helen’s Massive Melons are always a favourite at the annual Bigball County Fair. Miss Helen is never shy in getting her big, plump, ripe, bouncy melons out for the lads and therefore has been the crowd favourite ever since she took over from her older sister Lucy who competed in the Big Juicy Peach Parade. Bigball County is tucked away in a damp little corner of Muffville Tennessee. Make sure ya poke your nose in next time ya looking for a good time. Ya’ll come back ya hear!”

Miss Svenson's Classroom Detention

“Allo, My name is Miss Svenson an I come from Sweeeden. I love to do da spanky spanky with my big vwooden cane especially on all you nughty nughty little boyz. Za after schooul detention is my favourit as if i catch za boyz playin peek-a-boo at my peeky bits, Den they get a good spanky spanky on dere botty botty”